Residents in Cobham have accused the Travellers of stealing and littering
Surrey villagers threatened to form a “posse” against travellers who moved in because they said the police failed to take action. Residents of the exclusive village of Cobham, which is home to A-list stars such as Antonio Banderas, the actor and producer, and John Terry, the former Chelsea footballer, complained that since their arrival a week ago travellers had shoplifted, defecated on tennis courts and the sandpit of the children’s playground, and intimidated locals.
David Worsfold, whose family have owned the local newsagent for 60 years, told the Daily Mail: “If the police aren’t going to police them, we will. I pay £63,000 a year in business rates and what do I have to show for it? When I call the police they don’t care.” Mr Worsfield, 59, a father of three, said he and a group of other locals had “kettled” a crown of Travellers in a supermarket car park on Wednesday and claimed that they had found stolen property. I flagged down a police car and told the officer what had happened and he just drove off,” he said, claiming that the crowd of travellers escaped by climbing over a wall.
Alistair Mann, 57, left, and David Worsfold, 59, right, are demanding that police take action
Cobham residents have been communicating by walkie-talkies to monitor activity on the village’s High Street, and some have called on Facebook for an “angry mob” to take charge of matters. One user of the local Facebook page, Cobham – Our Village, said: “I say we all get on our horses with our fire torches [to] go down there and drive them off the good old fashioned way.” Others jokingly suggested using concrete blocks or land mines as a deterrent to the travellers, with one villager saying that the group of about 50 caravans might like to move on to the front lawn of Dominic Rabb, the Brexit secretary, who represents the constituency.
Phil Thompson, the owner of Adrenalin Sports, a shop on Cobham’s High Street, told The Times that he had locked travellers out of his shop after antisocial behaviour by the same group six weeks ago. “You just can’t risk letting them in. They’re feral,” he said. Mr Thompson, 58, said that threats of a posse “would be a terrible thing to happen, but I wouldn’t put it past them. You try to live a law-abiding life and it’s disrupted. You shouldn’t have to have people taking the law into their own hands.” He said that any violence would be because of a lack of response from the authorities. “The Council are useless and there is a lack of policing. There is no permanent presence and the police park in car parks, not in the streets.”
A row of caravans seen at Cobham Recreation Ground
Alistair Mann, the chairman of Cobham Chamber of Commerce, echoed concerns that the dispute could result in the eruption of mob violence. “You’re looking at civil unrest,” he said. “Locals are already starting to take matters into their own hands. There has been lots of repeated talk about getting a posse together.” In an act of civil defiance, Mr Mann, 57, said he was threatening to stop paying his parking tickets.
Surrey police said: “Following concerns being raised about an encampment, our officers attended the site in Cobham last week. The response to this was led by the local council, who we are supporting. Following a court order obtained by the Council on Friday, the encampment has since moved on.” He added: “We are also aware of a number of reports of theft, which we are investigating.”
Travellers evicted from Cobham, Surrey, have moved to a village just six miles away at Thames Ditton
We too were “Travellers” last night, but no one arrived in a caravan and the social niceties were fully respected. Indeed there were no signs of real Travellers as we visited the Cobham Village Hall for the second and final week as they completed the reconstruction work and the windows at the Oxshott Village Hall. It is back to Oxshott for us all next week. You can read all about the evening's play in the Report by clicking on the "Competitions" tab in the Menu to the left of this box. Alternatively you can study the full Leaderboard and the individual Travellers by clicking on the "Calendar & Past Results" and again on "Wed 8 Aug".